Author Jezz Chung’s New Book Is a Guide for Building Revolutionary Queer Community

Can you talk a little bit about the “avenues of intimacies” chart in the book, which details how people can find that values-aligned community in their own lives?

Yes! Community building is a verb. It’s about developing and sustaining relationships with people that we can practice with. I think a lot of us within queer space are versed in the language of liberation, but it’s very different to put it into practice. It’s different to know it intellectually and then practice it somatically.

I am very open about my life online, and one of the main questions that I get asked is, “How did you find friends? How did you build community? You seem to have such a strong support system.” I thought, “Wow, that’s so affirming to hear,” because when I first started therapy in 2018, I remember my therapist asking me, “Do you have a strong support system?” And I said, “No.” I could not say yes to that question.

That’s why I think a lot of my work, too, is encouraging people to start where they are. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you’re late. My autistic neurodivergent brain is very much, Step one, step two, step three. Here are the steps and this is a how-to.” I love how-tos because these are things that, as you said, they’re not really talked about. They’re not written out. I really wanted to write a guide that explained, “Okay, what are the different ways that you can experience intimacy?” because intimacy is a core human need.

I have a theory: If we experience more intimacy, we would experience less depression, because depression is a disconnection to our core human needs. I wrote this chart while thinking about all the places where I found community and all the ways that I found my people. I found them by doing things that I love, doing things that I’m passionate about, including marching, organizing, and protesting.

You write that as part of our transformation processes, we can look for evidence supporting the world you want to see. What evidence have you seen recently of that?

From October to December, I was going out to marches for the first time in years. I used to get so overstimulated at protests that I would need weeks to recover. I realized this wasn’t a sustainable way for me to participate in this work, but I started going back out again, and I wrote a poem about this, actually.

It’s in a zine that I wrote, called How to Build a World, which is the title of the first poem in the book. I wrote about how there are things they don’t tell you about what it’s like to be there. You see puppies, babies, and strollers. There’s drumming and people with these beautiful works of art and this surge of energy. You feel part of something bigger than you, and you find meaning and purpose. You realize this is so worthy, to work towards making the world safer and freer.

I find evidence when I’m in spaces that are committed to addressing collective safety and needs. I get emotional thinking about it because I imagine all of us moving in unison. I wrote in my notebook that “a protest is an attempt to keep something alive,” and we’re keeping love alive. There’s all of us coming together. After witnessing truly one of the worst horrors that we have seen as humans, we’re sitting together to say, “Hey, this isn’t okay, and we demand something better. We believe in something better.“ What a beautiful thing to believe in a better world and take action towards it and source power, safety, and love among each other. That is what I live for.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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